The Jewish Home party will not act as a sectorial party within the new government formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, party leader Naftali Bennett said on Saturday evening.
Speaking at an event organized by the religiously-affiliated Makor Rishon newspaper, Bennett addressed the finalization of the coalition, stressing that his goal wasn’t to “establish a party within a party,” but rather to “serve the people of Israel from within Netanyahu’s government.”
Bennett said his alliance with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which he said was originally a tactical partnership in the coalition negotiations, had created an opportunity to achieve historic change for Israel. Jewish Home is a hardline Orthodox party, and Yesh Atid is centrist, but they have a declared common agenda in battling to draft the ultra-Orthodox, boost education and work-participation in the ultra-Orthodox sector, and reallocate resources for an a fairer share of rights and responsibilities across Israeli society.
Earlier Saturday, Netanyahu formally confirmed to President Shimon Peres that he had managed to muster a majority coalition. Peres charged him with the task on February 2, in the wake of the January 22 elections, and gave him a two-week extension four weeks later, making Saturday the final day of Netanyahu’s maximal six-week allocation.
Netanyahu was able to report on his success after the Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties finally signed a coalition agreement with Likud-Beytenu Friday afternoon, paving the way for the new government to be sworn in on Monday.
On Saturday evening, Bennett pledged that his party, traditionally a religious Zionist party, would not serve the narrow interests of the religious sector, but rather those of the public at large — with particular emphasis on the high real estate prices and living costs in Israel. He added, however, that it would also serve the interests of the ultra-Orthodox parties which were left out of the coalition.
“We are at the prime minister’s service,” Bennett said, asserting that his party would assist Netanyahu in his endeavors. “His success is the success of the entire nation of Israel.”
Bennett will serve as economics and trade minister and deputy prime minister in the new government. He will also hold the Religious Affairs portfolio.
Meanwhile Saturday, Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni, soon to become justice minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians, criticized her new coalition partners, saying she had “very deep differences of opinion” with the Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett.
Livni told Channel 2 she hoped Yesh Atid chairman Lapid, who has forged a political alliance with Bennett, would not adopt his partner’s right-wing views.